The Tube, Subway, Underground, Metro... where is it better?
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I do not remember the first time I travelled on the metro in Moscow, but I've always thought that this is what an underground train system should be like. My opinion changed only when I got to travel on underground transport in other countries. The Tube in London is the oldest in the world, the first trains ran there in January 1863 and the first electric trains ran there in 1890. With this long history, it still looks a lot like it used to a hundred years ago. Many lines go long distances on the ground, and very often you can see trains going along different lines on one and the same platform. For someone who is used to the Moscow system of having one platform for one line, it can be quite confusing. even more confusing is the fact that some trains do not go to the end of the line, or if they do and the line splits into two different directions (anyone who went to Heathrow by the Tube knows that), you have to be very careful and read what the sign on the train says, otherwise you may end up somewhere totally different from your destination point.
Trains are comfortable, however. The seats are soft and there is enough standing room for the rush hour. By the end of the day the seats are often littered with the free newspapers you can get at the station entrances.
While in Moscow each station is individually designed, and many of them are decorated with marble, granite, bronze and mosaics, Tube stations in London look rather unimpressive. The walls are tiled at Victoria Station, you can pictures of Sherlock Holmes at Baker Street station, but many other stations have just red brick walls and look gloomy.
Not every station has an escalator. For example, in Covent Garden you have to use a huge lift, but when there are many people travelling, it if very far from being efficient and comfortable. You can also walk up the emergency steps, but there staircase is somewhat narrow and winding and all in all there are 193 steps. A walk up takes time and a lot of effort, so if you are at Covent Garden and want to go up, use the lifts by all means.
Lifts are often used to go up from the underground in the UK. I remember using a lift in Liverpool underground, although I do not remember which station that was.
Sometimes trains stop between stations. I've seen that happen in London and once I missed the bus to Liverpool from Newcastle-upon-Tyne because of the train. It stopped between two stations in Newcastle Underground and stayed there for about 15 minutes. When I arrived at the coach station, I saw the back of my bus and had to buy another ticket.
Underground (or Subway) in the USA is much more modern-looking that that in the UK. Escalators take you down to the station in Washington DC, there is plenty of information about everything on the electronic panels and on the walls, air conditioning is just fine, trains are comfortable, but the light at the stations is not as bright as in Moscow. If you do not like darkish spaces, then you feel better on the train than at the station.
As I said, I used to think that Moscow metro is nothing special, just something what it should be. But now I realise that underground train systems can be very diffferent. The Metro in Moscow is not as hi-tech as that in Washington DC, it is not as old as that in London, the trains are not as comfortable, but it is often more reliable than in some countries and the stations are more like underground palaces and are far more beautiful than what you would normally see under ground. All said, there is something to enjoy everywhere, and my advice is to keep looking for it, because it is always there.
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